Friday, February 27, 2015

SCAMS– The Science of Scammers

Scammers are always trying to find new ways to hook potential victims. But, with all of the reporting recently about scams, you probably have noticed some constants in how scammers operate. The Better Business Bureau has recently published three clues that you can look for if you encounter a scam that does not seem to use the same tactics that we have been talking about lately.

The techniques that scammers use are similar to legitimate marketing techniques, only with a scam you are out your money without a product or service.

Establish a Connection. A scammer will want to develop a trusting relationship so that you will feel confident to do what he wants. He might research your profile on social media, or ask questions that allow him to try to give you a sense that you both have common interests. This can occur online, on a telephone cold call or he may take his time in a person to person social setting to groom you as a target. The scammer may also use a tool called reciprocity. He will do something for you to make you feel good about him and to make you feel that you should do something for him.

Source Credibility. Scammers want to appear credible to their targets. They will make it look like that they are from legitimate businesses with fake websites, business cards or phone numbers. They may also use a tone of voice and jargon that makes it appear that they are legitimate.

Play on your Emotions. Like a good salesman, scammers will want to develop of sense of urgency to get you to decide quickly. The quicker you say yes, the less time that you have to think about and research his proposal. This can be done by telling you that his offer is available for a limited time, or there is a limited supply that is going fast. Also, claiming that there is an emergency that needs to be resolved quickly tries gets you to act without thinking.

One scam that uses these techniques is the “Affinity Fraud.” This is where a scammer/fraudster may use social relationships such as in their retirement community, church, or social group to recruit people to invest in a supposedly “hot” investment. Frequently, these are simple Ponzi schemes when the fraudster uses the money from early “investors” to pay off later “investors.”

The fraudster will take the time to develop a friendship with his targets. He will use different methods over time to play up his so called credibly. And at some point, he might play on your emotions to act before his opportunity goes away.

A classic fraudster who used Affinity Fraud was Bernie Madoff.

You can avoid Affinity Fraud by:

  • Not relying solely on recommendations by friends, club members or associates. Check out the investment from independent sources.
  • Finding out if the investment or product being sold is registered by using the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck website (
  • Know where your money is being invested and who is investing it.
  • Getting everything in writing and check to be sure that your money is actually where it is supposed to be.
  • Being careful if the person is trying to pressure you into quick decisions. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
If you think that you have been scammed, file a complaint with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions ( Since Affinity Fraud is often found among tight-knit groups, you may be motivated to try to work things out privately with the scammer. Report the fraud. There are probably other victims to the fraud, and the fraudster will continue to victimize other people.

We usually don’t think that we will become victims of fraud. But no matter how sophisticated our knowledge of financial investments might be, it is still important to be on the lookout for fraud no matter how much we trust our source or our skills.

The Better Business Bureau:


AARP Fraud Watch Network:



Thursday, February 26, 2015

EDMONDS– Attempted Abduction of Teenage Girl

Around 6:50am this morning, a teenage girl, walking to Edmonds-Woodway High School, was approached by a man who asked her to gin into his car. She said no and ran away.

The man is described as white, in his 20’s, wore glasses and a dark jacket. He drove a gray or black sedan with tinted windows, possibly a Honda or Audi.

While stranger abductions of children are rare, they are concerning and receive a lot of publicity. If your children walk to school, talk to them about being alert to their surroundings; if they can, walk in a group; and if approached by someone who makes them uncomfortable, run away and yell.


The Herald:


Thursday, February 19, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY– Thefts Are Up In Residential Areas

Lt. Robert Palmer, South Precinct Commander for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office recently took a KIRO TV reporter on a ride-a-long in residential areas to show how thieves can easily steal low value items that are left outside of homes and in open garages.

The Sheriff’s Office has received an increase in reports of thefts in recent months. Lt. Palmer attributed the increase to the rise in heroin usage. Over the past few years, heroin has become the drug of choice locally (as well as nationally). Heroin is cheaper than many other drugs such as prescription drugs (oxycodone) and is also readily available.

Heroin addicts can pick up some relatively inexpensive items in a sweep of a neighborhood. According to Lt. Palmer, “They really only need to come up with $25 worth of property today, and then tomorrow, they’ll go out and get $25 to $50 worth of property and get their drugs because it’s so cheap.”

During the ride-a-long, which aired tonight on KIRO-TV, Lt Palmer pointed out equipment left in the front yards of homes and a garage, with the door open, full of possessions ready for the taking. Also, a resident talked about the theft of his small outboard motor. Outboards are easy for one person to take. Now, he locks his outboard motor to his boat.

Key items that thieves look for include:

  • Yard equipment such as weed eaters and power tools.
  • Propane tanks left with gas grills.
  • Valuables in unlocked cars including electronics, wallets or garage door openers.
All of these thefts are a result of easy opportunities for thieves. The best way to reduce the thefts is to take away the opportunities. You can:

  • Keep your yard around your home clean and uncluttered. Pick up tools and equipment when you are finished with projects for the day. Store your children’s bicycles and toys in your house or closed garage.
  • Keep landscaping trimmed so that your house is easily seen from the street.
  • Lock your garage door even while you are home and even when you are working in the yard. A thief can take something out of your garage without you knowing it, especially if you are working in your back yard.
  • When you park your car in your driveway or in front of your house, do not store anything in view through the windows. If a thief can see it, he will take it.
  • Be on the lookout for any suspicious person or activity. If you see anything suspicious, report it right away to 911. Many burglaries and thefts in residential areas occur during the day when few people are at home. Encourage your neighbors who are retired or work from home to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Note: On February 18, I posted that the North County Property Crime Unit was looking for Joseph Nasby and Sarah Dreben. The Sheriff’s Office reports that both have been apprehended. The Property Crime Unit alleges that they would look for homes with open garages, sheds, and out buildings to steal chainsaws, weed trimmers, leaf blowers and weapons.

Take a look at the video of the report, it shows good examples of property at risk.







Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MARYSVILLE– Property Crimes Unit Seeks Chainsaw Thieves

Joseph Nasby 25-years-old
A few days ago I posted an item about a chainsaw chop shop in the Marysville area (

Now, detectives of the North County Property Crime Unit are looking for two suspects who they believe have been stealing chainsaws and other gas-powered equipment.

The detectives recovered stolen chainsaws from a Marysville residence and learned that they were sold to the homeowner by Joseph Nasby, 25-years-old and Sarah Dreben, 37-years-old. Detectives believe that the two look for homes with open garages, sheds, and out buildings then steal weed trimmers, leaf blowers and weapons, in addition to chainsaws.

Sarah Dreben 37-years-old
If you know where detectives can find these suspects, call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at (425) 388-3845 or leave an anonymous tip online at

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:






Tuesday, February 17, 2015

METH– The Physical Toll

You may have seen pictures of people on methamphetamine showing how they prematurely age over long periods of use. The Italian Institute of Technology and University of California at Irvine have conducted a study to determine exactly what is going on.

Meth develops a feeling of euphoria and increased energy along with reduced appetite according to meth users. According to Medical Daily, ( meth has been linked to diseases of aging, such as coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and pulmonary fibrosis (scar tissue in the lungs).

The study shows that meth creates abnormalities in the fat metabolism of cells, triggering an increase in a type of molecule that promotes cell death.

For a more detailed, and probably more scientifically accurate, explanation go to:

Medical Daily:


If you know someone who is on meth, you can go to the Snohomish County Human Services web page for referrals.

Snohomish County Human Services:

Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force:


Monday, February 16, 2015

GLACIER PEAK HIGH SCHOOL– Baseball Dugouts Vandalized

Over the weekend, vandals torched the benches, equipment and dugouts of the softball field at Glacier Peak High School on Cathcart Way in south Snohomish County. A few weeks ago, vandals spray painted the dugouts yellow and red and dug up the pitcher’s mound.

The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating and is offering a $10,000 for information about this arson. If you have any information about this incident, call 911 or, 1-800-55-ARSON.

The Glacier Peak HS Fast Pitch Softball Facebook page shows pictures of the damage:







BOTHELL- Hindu Temple and Junior High School Vandalized

Leaders of the Hindu Temple in Bothell discovered graffiti on the side of the building on Sunday morning.

The graffiti consisting of a swastika and the words “Get Out” has been removed.

At Skyview Junior High School, a block away from the temple, vandals tagged one wall of the building with a swastika and the words, “Muslims Get Out.”

According to Q13 news, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Hindu temple vandalism and the Bothell Police Department is investigating the school vandalism.



If you have any information about who did this vandalism, call 911 or The Sheriff’s Tip Line at (425) 388-3845.







Sunday, February 15, 2015

SCAMS– Romance Scammers Can Take More than Your Heart

Romance scammers try to steal your heart, and then steal your money.

They troll web dating sites such as, chat rooms and Facebook looking for their victims who are usually over 40. The average victim loses about $26,000.

After finding their victim, the scammer will portray themselves as successful business people, models, missionaries or even American soldiers. They will take photos often from legitimate modeling sites to make themselves look gorgeous.

After wooing their victim on the phone, text messages and email, they come up with a story that they have had some sort of emergency and need money quick. Can you help?

Two twists to this scam include:

  1. On webcams, they convince you to perform sex acts. Then they blackmail you to not post the video.
  2. If the scammer is “caught,” they profess their “true” love for the victim. Many people turn away, but, those who do not, are pulled down another path. This time, they are encouraged to visit the scammer. The first visit is perfect. On subsequent visits, the victim is maneuvered to scam other victims.
AARP suggests that you look out for the following:

  • Photos too good to be real. If the person looks too good, or looks like they are from a modeling agency, they probably stole the picture.
  • Inconsistent communications. If email responses are vague or seem repetitive, you might be communicating with a team. According to (, often romance scammers work in teams of six people. Each team can be communicating with numerous victims. Their communications and responses are often standard for their operation. And, if you are texting, direct messaging, or emailing and it seems to take some time to get a response from your “love”, they may be consulting with their teammates, or if they have been away from the computer for a while, they may be looking up communications to update themselves.
  • Profiles that sound too good to be true. Be skeptical if your true love claims to be a millionaire, Army general, or high profile celebrity.
  • Unreasonable requests. Cut off your relationship if they ask for emergency money early in the relationship. points out that the teams of scammers are men, women, and even teenagers of all ages. If you are a male, thinking that you have found a beauty that has fallen in love with you, you might be talking to a male who is 13 years old.

AARP Fraud Watch Network:

About Romance Scammers:


Previous posting on Romance Scams:




Saturday, February 14, 2015

MARYSVILLE– Chain Saw “Chop Shop”

Burglars will steal just about anything.

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is investigating a series of burglaries of small power tools such as chain saws, weed eaters, leaf blowers, etc. As part of the investigation, the unit served a search warrant on a home-based online small equipment business. It is investigating whether or not the business is trafficking in stolen equipment. Allegedly, the business acted as a “chop shop” for stolen equipment like car chop shops run by some car thieves.

Recently, Sheriff’s deputies have recovered a ledger of makes and models of small power equipment, as well as heroin and methamphetamine, during a car stop, indicating a listing of stolen equipment.

Deputies have heard of one burglary suspect trolling neighborhoods where trees have been recently cut down in hopes of finding chain saws. Near Cathcart, the suspect entered a garage and stole several guns from an open safe. This was next to a house with a sheriff’s vehicle parked in the driveway!

There are some things that you can do to take opportunity away from potential burglars:

  • Keep an inventory of your tools including your power tools with serial numbers, pictures, and descriptions. For tools that do not have serial numbers, engrave your own unique number or series of characters to identify those tools as yours.
  • When not in use, lock your tools in cabinets and/or your garage or tool shed. And if you are working on that project in the back yard, close and lock your garage door. Burglars can easily enter your garage and take things without you knowing.
  • If you are transporting tools in your car or truck, keep them out of sight in the trunk or in a locked box.

 The Herald:



Friday, February 6, 2015

SNOHOMISH– Two Teenage Girls Missing

Samantha Eldredge
Keyanna Monson
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office continues to look for Keyanna Monson and Samantha Eldredge. The 16 year olds are feared to have become victims of sex trafficking.

The Sheriff’s Office believes that the girls may be staying at hotels in the Puget Sound region.

If you know where the girls are call 911 or call the Sheriff’s anonymous tip line at (425) 388-3845.


Note: According to Stolen Youth, there are over 500 children in Seattle who are involved as victims in sex trafficking. The average age of these children is 13 years old. For more information about this problem go to:

Stolen Youth:


Seattle Against Slavery:


KUOW, The State of Sex Trafficking in King County:

Note: this is a 1.5 hour recording of a recent meeting on the subject.


The Herald:



Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:





Thursday, February 5, 2015

SCAM UPDATE– More Scams to Watch Out For

Here are some scams to watch out for on the internet, your cell phone, and your email.

Scams on Social Media. Tonight, KIRO TV news ran an item about scams on social media. Popular sites for these scams are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

On Facebook you might encounter a survey scam with a sensational headline. Click on the link and to take the survey you need to give a bunch of personal information.

The best thing is to be suspicious of links that you don’t recognize and avoid offers that appear too good to be true. Also, keep your anti-virus software up to date and change your passwords regularly.

For more information, go to:



Ransomware, on your cell phone. In December, I talked about ransomware, where scammers take control of your computer with a Crpytolocker Virus, then demand payment to “unlock” your computer. (

Well now, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has sent out a warning about a similar virus that targets your cell phone. Apparently, while you are surfing the web on your phone, it can freeze up and then show a message on your screen that your phone “is locked due to the violation of the federal laws.”

To get your phone back, can you guess? You need to pay a “fine.” Can you guess how to pay? Yes, “pre-paid debit card!” Load up several hundred dollars on the debit card; enter the card number and the PIN, and your set. Of course you know not to fall for this scam.

The BBB offers the following tips to protect your phone:

  • Treat your phone like a computer. Use a passcode, virus protection, and be careful what you download.
  • Watch out for scams that are disguised as apps. Only download apps through an official app store. Don’t download discontinued apps. And read user reviews before downloading your apps.
  • Keep your cell phone security software current.
  • Be careful of what you do and where you go online when you are using Wi-Fi hotspots.
For more information go to:


KIVI, Channel 6, Boise, ID:


Cancer Scam. I received an unsolicited email in late January from a “Ralph Carr” pleading for financial help for his cousin’s bone marrow transplant. The transplant was to be conducted in Donetsk, Ukraine. Donetsk is a city in eastern Ukraine that has been under attack by Russian rebels for the past few months. Mr. Carr requested $2,800. He wanted a reply email so that he could provide “details” to get the money to him.

Obviously, I did not reply, no telling what malware I would have gotten if I had replied. The appeal was clearly emotional. Also, having at least a little awareness of what is going on in the news is helpful, in this case, to raise red flags. Ignore direct appeals for money from strangers.




Wednesday, February 4, 2015

LYNNWOOD– Marijuana Parent Information Night

As a parent, you may have questions about marijuana use and you’re teen. Is marijuana addictive? How can you tell if your teen is experimenting with marijuana or alcohol? If he or she is, what can you do? What is the law regarding marijuana and teens?

To answer these and your other questions about marijuana and teenagers, the Verdant Community Wellness Center will hold a parent information night on Monday, February 23, 2015 in its Lynnwood facility starting at 7:00pm.

Verdant requests that you register for this event. You can call (425) 582.8600 or register online at

For information about the signs of a marijuana house in your neighborhood, go to:


Tuesday, February 3, 2015


This issue of the Sheriff’s Office’s crime prevention newsletter, “Partners in Crime Prevention,” focuses on auto theft prevention. You can see it here: